Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Tuesday Mashup (3/15/11)

  • The Bucks County Courier Times provided more idiocy from Simon Campbell of the Pennsbury School Board today (here)…

    …teachers can't be laid off for economic reasons and tenure ensures a job for life.
    Campbell is specifically referring to the teachers in the Pennsbury School District, even though, for some reason, be mentions the Neshaminy School District also (didn’t know he is on that board as well, or so he thinks – news to me). And I don’t have enough knowledge of the Pennsbury situation to assume that Campbell is lying, though it wouldn’t surprise me in the least to find out that that’s the case.

    However, I can most definitely tell you that tenure is under attack along with teachers’ bargaining rights across the country.

    As noted here, tenure has been phased out for new teachers in Idaho, and this tells us about the effort to strip tenure in Ohio and Missouri. Also, here is more background on Wisconsin, where tenure is very much at issue (also in Indiana, Tennessee, Florida and Oklahoma), including the following…

    The solution, (Yolanda Sealey-Ruiz, an assistant professor of English education who is a former corporate executive and former high school teacher) says, is not to eliminate tenure but to retrain and support struggling teachers, as many private sector employers do, before letting them go. But that would be a challenge, she noted, for school systems having to cut budgets. “I don’t think there’s any way around it without spending time and spending money,” she said.

    Some educators say that mentoring or rehabilitating ineffective teachers – tenured or not – will not stop some principals from abusing their power. “If you get on a principal’s bad side,” said one alumnus and high school teacher, “they will write you up for things that they have minimal documentation for.”

    Some (experts at TC’s Hechinger Institute) believe tenure could work better if teachers were fairly evaluated and received the support they need to improve. Even Randi Weingarten, president of the powerful American Federation of Teachers, has conceded that tenure rules need to be streamlined.
    But as is the case with so many issues in this country, the politicized shouting matches have taken over the process of reasonable dialogue (just a general observation, particularly concerning Campbell's antics).

    Still, though, for all of his griping about teachers, I’d like to see Campbell (who made his money as a futures trader) try and last an entire day running a classroom. It would be truly entertaining.

  • Also, staying with the Courier Times, J.D. Mullane tells us the following here today (in a column where he seems to compliment Japan for the lack of looting during its current misery, as compared to our country during Katrina I guess, or so he alleges…kind of hard to loot during a tragedy which Japan has called the worst they experienced since World War II – as bad as Katrina was, it just doesn’t compare to this…trying hard not to smack myself in the middle of the forehead for actually continuing to pay for this dreck).


    Climate-change enthusiasts, in Pavlovian reaction, attributed the quake to global warming. Yes, global warming cleaved the ocean floor, leaving a fissure 150 miles long and 50 miles wide. Global warming did that. Sure.
    God, what an idiot – as noted here…

    So far, today’s tsunami has mainly affected Japan—there are reports of up to 300 dead in the coastal city of Sendai—but future tsunamis could strike the U.S. and virtually any other coastal area of the world with equal or greater force, say scientists. In a little-heeded warning issued at a 2009 conference on the subject, experts outlined a range of mechanisms by which climate change could already be causing more earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanic activity, albeit of a scale and nature quite different from Friday’s tragedy.

    A 2009 paper by Bill McGuire, professor at University College London, says “observations suggest that the ongoing rise in global average temperatures may already be eliciting a hazardous response from the geosphere.”

    It’s important to note that this response has nothing to do with Friday’s tsunami, which is a ‘subduction zone earthquake,’ whereas the tsunamis discussed by scientists cited here would be the product of catastrophic events—collapse of methane hydrate deposits at the bottom of the ocean on the continental shelf, for example—for which a tsunami would be but one of many negative impacts.

    “When the ice is lost, the earth’s crust bounces back up again and that triggers earthquakes, which trigger submarine landslides, which cause tsunamis,” McGuire told Reuters. (McGuire’s 2009 paper notes that such effects will be much more pronounced in areas with significant ice cover, in other words, at higher latitudes.)

    Scientists have known for some time that climate change affects not just the atmosphere and the oceans but also the earth’s crust. These effects are not widely understood by the public.

    “In the political community people are almost completely unaware of any geological aspects to climate change,” said McGuire.
    Yes, it seems that there is no direct link between the events in Japan and the climate crisis. But only a fool (or a Bucks County Courier Times opinion columnist published three days a week, and I certainly don’t mean Kate Fratti) would dismiss climate events out of hand regarding potential future catastrophes.

  • Next (catching up a bit), I give you more from the New York Times and the false equivalency file (here)…

    The reporter in disguise has largely faded from mainstream American journalism. But the tactic is alive and well in the hands of passionate partisans.

    As their pursuit of the “gotcha” moment has become part of the cost of life in the public eye, one question is how willing politicians will be to advance their agendas on the backs of these muckrakers 2.0.

    In just the last month, surreptitiously recorded conversations have embarrassed NPR and Planned Parenthood, organizations long under assault from conservatives, as well as Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, a Republican and target of the political left for his anti-union stance.
    To begin, it is utterly laughable to insinuate that anything James O’Keefe and his fellow propagandists are doing is anything remotely comparable to actual journalism; as noted here, his latest hit job on NPR was heavily edited, removing six different instances where former NPR fundraiser Ron Schiller tells O’Keefe that donors cannot buy the kind of coverage they want on NPR.

    By contrast, the call to Hosni Mubarak Walker came from Ian Murphy (posing as David Koch) of the “Buffalo Beast” web site originated by Matt Taibbi (noted here). Both Murphy and Taibbi are actual reporters, and I would really like someone to try and explain to me how Walker’s private words to “David Koch” are inconsistent with his public words and actions.

    The Times story also tells us the following…

    Political strategists express worry that this sort activity has been creeping into campaigns for some time now. But the fact that they can so often have a political benefit leaves many torn.

    “I find the whole thing bordering on unsavory on both sides,” said Ari Fleischer, a White House press secretary under President George W. Bush. “As much as I love it when liberal hypocrisy is exposed,” he added, “do we really want to get to the point where it becomes standard fare — especially in political campaigns — for opponents to engage in sting operations?”
    Such a comment is hilarious coming from a partisan as rabid as Fleischer, who was one of the first to attack Helen Thomas for claiming that the Jews should get the “hell” out of Palestine while giving Flush Limbore and “Crazy Train” Beck a pass for their own bloviations (here); Fleischer also incorrectly said that Obama had a proposal to eliminate charitable deductions, for which he was not called out by Wolf Blitzer (here, which is kind of funny when you consider the Repug budget machinations in the House), and here, he told the mother of a dead U.S. soldier that “there are going to be a lot more mothers like you” (nice, Ari).

    Yeah, when it comes to “unsavory,” Ari sure is a subject matter expert, isn’t he?

  • And here is yet another item from the New York Times’ false equivalency file…

    Critics in New York contend the new Prospect Park bike lane is badly designed, endangering pedestrians and snarling traffic. Cape Wind opponents argue the turbines will defile a pristine body of water. And in Berkeley, store owners worried that reduced traffic flow and parking could hurt their business (from the proposed full bus rapid transit system).

    But some supporters of high-profile green projects like these say the problem is just plain old Nimbyism — the opposition by residents to a local development of the sort that they otherwise tend to support.
    I don’t know anything about the bus system proposed for Berkeley, CA, and I’m sorry, but I think it’s stupid to complain about a traffic bike lane (and yes, I’ve driven in Philadelphia enough times to just learn to deal with them where I find them).

    However, lumping the Cape Wind project with the Berkeley BRT project and the New York City bike lanes is idiotic as far as I’m concerned; as noted here, Cape Wind poses the threat of an oil spill, as well as a danger to over 7,000 gray and harbor seals and potentially six million migratory birds, among other ecological dangers.

    Throw a “NIMBY” charge at me all you want, but I’m sorry – I absolutely refuse to believe that sticking a bunch of wind turbines in the middle of Nantucket Sound is the best option available for generating wind power, to say nothing of the cost.

  • Finally, the New York Times also tells us here that Holy Joe Lieberman will continue to whine and pontificate to his heart’s content until he is finally, dutifully, mercifully GONE AT LONG LAST! (the story has to do with him and other departing U.S. Senators)...

    As he readies himself for some policy fights, Mr. Lieberman said he had already seen ads run against colleagues for daring to talk about changes to programs like Social Security and Medicare. Now, he says, he doesn’t have to sweat such possibilities even if he chooses to get out in front on the entitlement issue.

    “Those are easy subjects to demagogue,” Mr. Lieberman said. “When you are not running again, you worry less about that.”
    “Daring to talk about changes,” Carl Hulse of the Times? You mean about a program that will remain solvent for at least the next 30 years (here, speaking about Social Security)? Interesting bit of editorializing there.

    And on the subject of Social Security (speaking of demagoguery), I give you the following (here)…

    (Lieberman) defended McCain’s privatization plan: Lieberman falsely claimed that Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) “is not for the private accounts to take the place of social security.” “He’s for what Bill Clinton used to call Social Security plus,” said Lieberman. [3/30/08]

    (Lieberman) hinted at support for “private accounts” in 2005: Although Lieberman said “it’s important Social Security remain what it is,” a social insurance program that “provides a floor of income,” he would not rule out personal accounts. Lieberman added, “if we can figure out a way to help people through private accounts or something else, great.” [1/05]

    (Lieberman) said we eventually will have “individual control” of Social Security: In a May 4, 1998, interview, Lieberman said “it doesn’t make sense” not to broaden the Social Security portfolio, and added, “Same is true of this idea of privatizing.” “I think in the end that individual control of part of the retirement/Social Security funds has to happen,” he told the Copley News Service. [5/4/1998]
    And on the subject of privatization, as noted here, Think Progress tells us that “under a Bush-style privatization plan, an October 2008 retiree (who had saved for 35 years) would have lost $26,000 in that year’s market turmoil.”

    The Times story tells us that the group of eight (so far) Senators departing Washington is calling itself the “Bucket List Caucus,” in homage of sorts to the movie, and by that they mean that they intend to make good on their remaining days in “the world’s greatest deliberative body.”

    While I have great respect for the actors Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman, playing two men stricken with cancer, real-life cancer survivor and esteemed film critic Roger Ebert referred to the film’s portrayal of that disease as "a laff riot followed by a dime-store epiphany" (to be fair, I saw a few minutes in the beginning which are fairly rough).

    Still, I think “dime-store epiphany” aptly describes the attitude of Lieberman and his pals, trying to sound heroic for doing the business at the end of their Senate careers that they should have been doing all along anyway.

    And by the way, I don't know if - speaking of U.S. Senators, or former ones - Evan Bayh is more loathesome and execrable than Lieberman, but he's right up there (here - h/t Atrios).
  • No comments: